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The Real Cost of Bumiputraism To The Malays

By Multatuli Murtadi

Multatuli uses real examples to show that affirmative action policies can only take one so far, and then the graph moves south and the negatives begin to outweigh the positives.

Whenever the government’s racist policies are brought up, the first thought is how adversely it has affected two generations of non-Malays and conversely how much it has benefitted the Malays. To an extent that is correct but that is a simplistic perspective.

I would like to argue that it has adversely affected the Malays just as much as the non-Malays (and in the long run more); and if continued will lead to the self destruction of  the community.

On the surface it may seem that it is all plus for the Malays as government policies are designed to benefit them.

I will not deny that Malays have benefitted from racial discrimination in their favour; for instance more Malays have access to tertiary education, Malays have benefitted from policies that favour them in government jobs and in business. There is now a sizeable Malay professional, business and middle class.

But now the diminishing returns of racism have started to kick in.

The lowering of entry level to tertiary education for Malays have resulted in poorly trained Malay professionals. Can we trust our health system to half baked doctors and nurses. What about the bridges that are built. What about architects? Already buildings have collapsed probably due to a multiple reasons – poor architecture and engineering together with poor contracting standards. Would you as a Malay go to the best doctor (whatever his race) or will you go to a doctor because he is a Malay? Would you risk your family?

I am not implying that Malay professionals are bad; but when you lower standards to meet racial quotas you are bound to have low quality professionals.

This also goes for those who teach in universities and colleges. Poor quality lecturers produce poor quality students. Unless we pick the best to be chancellors of our universities we will remain second rate.

Ultimately racially biased policies will rebound on the Malays – it already has. Private enterprises are reluctant to employ graduates of our universities because they do not meet the standards required by the company. We have thousands of graduates – mostly Malays who cannot find employment, so we have graduate lasi lemak sellers, Panda Food despatches and PhDs in goyang kaki.

The government keeps telling us that we have the best education system. In fact Muyhiddin once boasted that our schools are the best in the world. Such outlandish claims may impress the simple minded but they should ask their leaders why then are you sending your children to international schools and to universities abroad? More savvy Malay parents send their children to Chinese schools because the standard is higher, the discipline better and they acquire a second or third language which will make them more laku in the job market.

If I am honest and even wearing my most nationalist songkok, I have to say that unless my children are proficient in English (and increasingly also in Mandarin) they will remain in the tempurong – unable to compete in the wider world.

Bumiputraism and Malay nationalism taken to extreme will, and is hurting us.

We stick out our chests with pride when we hear of Malay billionaires. We tell ourselves not only Chinese can be towkays and Indians modalalis. For your Robert Kuok and Ananda Krishnan we have Bukhari, Daim, Mukhriz, Razak

 etc. This surely is a source of Malay pride and maruah.

You think so?

Look carefully and you find that none of them built their empire with their own sweat and tears; risk their own money. Everyone of them had great fortune thrust upon them; and one in particular has stolen his money and has been convicted.

In the meantime Ali struggles to get a loan to start his small business. Rokiah cannot get a mortgage to buy her low cost house – yet rich Malays can get loans to buy a few properties and exploit the discounts afforded them.

This so called ‘affirmative action’ benefits the Malay B40 marginally while the M40 and rich are the big winners. The benefits have been disproportionately distributed among the Malays – never mind the non-Malays who do not get a look in.

So how does giving monopolies to Malays like Bukhari help us poor Malays? Everytime we buy essentials he profits but what about us? A healthy open competition will surely lower prices and bring better service. Why can’t we use our hard earned money to buy from the cheapest provider? We cannot because the government has given the monopoly to one man.  That is the same for banks, insurance etc.  Open competition ultimately benefits the consumers but we are not allowed it.

Malays are paying through their nose to maintain this Ketuanan policy and the ones who benefit are those who can wield influence and power.

The most insidious harm this racist policies do to the Malays is that it has taken away our real maruah. It has made us OKU. We cannot walk without crutches.

Because of government policies we think the country owes us. We have cultivated a entitlement mentality. We don’t have to work too hard to get a place in university. We don’t have to compete too much to get a government job. We are automatic choices to be chairman and ceo of GLCs. We get business thrust on us even if we are not the most competitive or efficient. We don’t really have to work because we can get the Chinese and Indian coolies to do the hard work while we collect rent. We can live on their sweat.

Meanwhile the cost of living goes up and we are the ones to pay for the greed of our leaders.

What kind of maruah is this? As a proud Malay I am ashamed that our race has come to this.  This is the greatest harm our racist policies has done to the Malays – taken away our real pride, taken away our initiative, dulled our competitive edge.

It also corrodes the moral fibre of Malays who pride themselves as good Muslims. Surely Islam did not teach us to  be dependent but to stand on our own feet.

Many Malays  may find it hard to swallow all I have said but after you get over your anger consider the implications of carrying on as we have done for the past 60 odd years. 

The world is getting smaller and more borderless. Our competitors couldn’t give two hoots about bumiputraism. It’s open competition outside our tempurong.

International companies will not invest here if our labour force is of poor quality and less educated than another country’s.  They will not be ransomed by our racial quota in the workforce – they want the best. 

I am told Vietnam has overtaken us economically; Bangladesh next?

Singapore which has none of our natural resources is three times richer and that is because they do not discriminate on their citizens. They encourage and use the best because ultimately that beneifts the country. They also have an efficient and clean government.

A Singapore Malay can hold his head up with pride because he can compete with the best of them.

We can too if we throw away the crutches our leaders insist we need.

It will not be the non-Malays who will be the undoing of the Malays unless you believe Mahathir and his fellow fear mongers, but it will be we Malays. 

The cost of our government’s racist policies is too high especially for us Malays.

(The views expressed are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Rebuilding Malaysia.)

By Multatuli Murtadi, Kelantan

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